The Dual Benefits of eCigarettes for Users
Two experts talk about smoking cessation support for dual users of cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. Jamie Brown and Lion Shahab are a pair of researchers at University College London who have conducted many studies looking at different aspects of vaping.
The latest Cochrane review concluded that vaping with nicotine helps more adults quit tobacco than traditional nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches, sprays, and gum).
As Brown and Shahab are experts in the area, it is reliable when they say that detailed analysis of data from the United States and the United Kingdom shows that a decrease in smoking rates can be associated with the increase in vaping – adding to the evidence that ecigs help smokers quit.
The pair praise the approach taken by the UK government and Public Health England, adopting “a rational approach to e-cigarettes and support proportionate regulation that seeks to maximise their opportunities and minimise their risks.”
This regulation has included:
- A ban on sales to children
- A ban on advertising that can cross borders
- A limit on nicotine content
- Implementing clear addiction warnings
- Maintaining tax advantages compared with cigarettes
- A notification scheme intended to ensure safety standards
- And recommendations for adults to use them for smoking cessation, including in national cessation campaigns
Our approach is not mirrored by a number of other countries and the advice given out by the World Health Organisation. One of the arguments they use is that vaping prolongs smokers continuing to use tobacco, called dual use.
“Dual use is unlikely to reduce harm substantially unless it leads to people quitting cigarettes,” the pair state.
Commenting on a latest study published in The Lancet, Brown and Shahab say it’s the first trial of an intervention specifically developed to promote cigarette cessation among dual users.
Conducted with 2896 adult participants, the sample size is large enough to make reasonable conclusions and be taken seriously. Plus, being conducted with real people over a 24-month period, the findings are more valid that the kind of data-driven studies other countries rely on to formulate policy.
“The results showed that the targeted intervention increased smoking abstinence throughout the treatment period compared with assessment only, particularly among dependent smokers,” the pair state.
They say this is “an important advance”, not least because the smokers in the study were not seeking cessation treatment or motivated to quit tobacco use – and this mirrors the wider population.
They conclude: “Further research will be required to convince sceptical organisations and researchers that e-cigarettes should be recommended for cessation and can be part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control. However, low-cost and scalable interventions that improve quitting among dual users is another factor that should inform judgments in balancing the harms and risks of e-cigarettes.”
This is great news for vaping in the UK as it validates our approach to tobacco harm reduction and means that smoking-related disease and death will continue to decline thanks to electronic cigarettes.